Monday, March 18, 2013

Protein for Exercise, Fitness, and Athletes

Here's a blog post by Dr. Donald Layman, one of the brightest minds in sports nutrition.

Most athletes – both elite athletes and health conscious adults – recognize that protein is important, but still find the advice confusing. Athletes hear a lot of different messages about the amount of protein to eat and when to eat it. However, there are three simple messages about protein.

The first message is that all adults interested in muscle health need to consume multiple, daily meals each containing 30 grams of protein. To maintain healthy muscles, we must continuously make new proteins and breakdown old ones. The repair and replacement processes only occur during the 3-hour period after a meal providing at least 30 grams of protein.

Most Americans eat the majority of their protein in a single, large dinner meal, with less than 10 grams of protein at breakfast. Your morning high fiber cereal with 8 grams of protein is useless for muscle health. Adults should have three meals each day with at least 30 grams of protein, and breakfast is the most important meal of your day! The METABOLIQ Shake is perfectly designed to deliver the protein you need for a convenient and tasty breakfast.

If you’re a bodybuilder trying to achieve maximum muscle size, you may want 4 to 6 meals each containing 30 grams of protein. If you’re a runner, you still need at least 3 meals for muscle repair and recovery. Many injuries are the result of long-term wear-and-tear without adequate protein to allow your body to repair the damage.

Surprisingly, the 30-gram amount is the same for a small woman or a large guy and appears to relate more to blood volume than body size. If a meal contains less than 20 grams of protein there is no benefit to muscle health for any adult at any size.

Second, athletes should consume protein soon after exercise to accelerate muscle recovery and maximize the benefits of the exercise. Intense exercise produces muscle damage and muscle breakdown. This is part of soreness but also an essential part of muscle training and development. To optimize training and minimize soreness, athletes need to consume protein within about 1 hour after exercise. The good news is that exercise increases the efficiency of protein use, so after exercise, 15 grams of a high quality whey protein or egg whites will maximize recovery. The METABOLIQ bar was originally designed for post-exercise recovery and ideal for athletes at any age.

The third message is that protein before exercise does not help muscle development. Protein consumed ahead of exercise has no beneficial effects on the quality of the workout or the speed of recovery. Protein is also slow to digest and may make you feel full and sluggish if consumed too close to exercise. If you have a full protein meal, it should be at least 2 hours before exercise. If you exercise early in the morning and need something before you head to the gym, keep it light and try to get a balance of carbohydrates, fats and protein. Perhaps a Greek yogurt, or a combination of yogurt and granola, even a hard fried egg on whole wheat toast may work well for you.

Whatever your athletic level, be sure to get the most out of your exercise with the right amounts of protein at the right times every day.
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